ELDER PLAY PROJECT
For the last eight years, Long Wharf Education has collaborated with Tower One Tower East, an assisted living facility in downtown New Haven. This collaboration,
entitled The Elder Play Project (EPP), works to engage residents of T.O.T.E with the theatre’s artistic programming and eventually write their own performance piece.
EPP engages 15 – 20 senior citizens each year in a collaborative experience that builds storytelling skills, improves social connections, as well as connects and records their history through the lens of Long Wharf’s work. EPP operates in parallel with Long Wharf’s annual season. On the Friday before the show, a Long Wharf teaching artist leads a pre-performance workshop to investigate the play’s plot and themes; explore the historical and social context of the work; and learn about the playwright. Participants then attend a Sunday matinee of the show. The following day, the group meets again with the teaching artist, who leads a short talkback about the experience. EPP participants then work on writing prompts, which ask them to consider themes from the show and make connections to their own experiences. Writing is shared with the group. By the end of the season, participants have attended twelve 90-minute workshops and six professionally produced plays.
Following the final workshop, Long Wharf’s Education staff reviews the narratives that have been authored throughout the year, looking for similar and complimentary narratives as well as important connections made through disparate viewpoints. The texts are woven together into an original play. EPP participants gather several times throughout the summer to rehearse and refine the production. The program concludes with a public presentation of the play at Long Wharf, attended by fellow residents, family, and friends. In the fall, the EPP production is reprised for a second public performance at T.O.T.E.